Atlas Rocket History

A lot has been written about the Atlas Missile en Atlas Launch Vehicle. And it deserves it, having played such an important role in the history of rockets and space travel.

There are different ways to look at history. In narrative form, telling the tale from its beginning, its origins, its evolution. Through the eyes of participants, who tell their own stories as they lived them. Through tables of launches and tests. Through technical specifications and their evolution and adaptation.

On these pages, I try to present the history of the Atlas rocket through chronology, a visual timeline. It puts the events and facts in a different format and, while limiting in certain areas, it gives a different perspective on what happened when. For example, through the timeline one can observe that  from 12 to 17 May 1959 all Cape Canaveral Atlas launch pads (LC-11, LC-12, LC-13 and LC-14) as well as launch pad 576A-2 at Vandenberg Air Force Base had Atlas missiles on them at the same time. Quite impressive.

It is of course a work in progress. Currently I have entered events through the end of 1964. I will continue to add to it when time allows.

I used Aeon Timeline to create the chronology which offers quite some handy features, also in its web version. You can click each event (on the green arrow when you hover over the event name) to see more details like a description of the event, location information, sources and links. You can search on anything that appears in the event title. Missile numbers are always included in the event name to facilitate search. I also used a color code for the different Atlas missile versions : red for the A-series, green for the B-series, blue for the C-series, purple for de D-series and brown for the E-series. All launches have a yellow color for easy visualisation.

Of course I welcome all corrections, additions, references or other information. You can reach my by e-mail at michel.gaelens (at)

I hope you get some value out of my work.

Here’s the AtlasTimeline page. (Version 1.3, April 8, 2019).
See the changelog.

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